Rehab? Noo Noooo no!
Palace Brighton Bay, 11/07 1:15pm
Running time: 128m
Country: United Kingdom
Classification: MA15+ (Strong drug themes and coarse language)
Release date: 02/07/15
Cost: $7.50 (Palace member discount)
Rating: 8/10 (ME 4/5, DP 4/5)
Compiled from video footage taken by Amy Winehouse’s friends, family and colleagues, along with archival footage from TV shows and awards ceremonies in which she featured, Amy is a documentary that provides us with an intimate portrait of a tragic young woman who was ultimately unable to cope with the pressures that fame and her natural talents burdened her with. It starts as an uplifting story about a shy but precociously talented young girl from London, but quickly turns into a dark tale of drinks, drugs and the curse of an inquisitive and intrusive media, as managers, promoters, family and friends attempt to pull her in so many different directions as her star power, celebrity status and ‘value’ all rise rapidly and exponentially. We are given a glimpse of a charismatic woman with a unique talent and a voice that rivals the great jazz singers of the past. It is through the lyrics of her songs that her innermost thoughts are told and we come to realise how autobiographical so much of her work was. A particular piece of footage that shows her recording a duet with Tony Bennett provides us with a wonderful glimpse of Amy’s genuine vulnerability and how extremely talented she remained, despite the extreme ravages of drugs, alcohol and an eating disorder.
The style of this documentary owes so much to the age that we live in, where everyone uses digital cameras to record every aspect of their lives. Amy shows how thoroughly a life can be documented; it provides something of a mosaic assembled from the family videos, camera footage, news reports and televisions shows. As such (and very cleverly) Amy is so often almost ‘narrated’ by the protagonist herself and complemented by the recollections of old friends, family and collaborators. The personal nature of this fly-on-the wall documentary helps to make it special and at times you feel as if you may even be intruding. It is hard not to feel an extreme empathy with her, as if you’re on her side, yet by watching and delving into so many of her private moments, we are engaging in exactly the same behaviours that ultimately drove her to an early and untimely death. So many scenes reveal a scared and confused young woman being pushed and jostled by hordes of intrusive paparazzi in a nightmare frenzy of strobing flashes, screaming and yelling. As a viewer you are at times almost blinded by the flashbulb footage as well and for a moment we are given a glimpse of how affected by this relentless pursuit a young and troubled woman must have been.
The inventive narrative style of Amy makes it an engrossing and captivating experience, that is still difficult to watch at times, particularly as we know the inevitability of where it is heading and come to fully understand the tragedy of a young woman with so much potential that was heartbreakingly wasted. It’s raw, it’s informative, it’s captivating and above all it’s particularly human (bring some tissues, just in case). This documentary is recommended for both fans of the singer and also for those who may have been fascinated from afar as her sad and spectacular downfall was so publicly and prolifically documented. (DP)
88th Academy Awards
2016 BAFTA Awards
2nd Golden Thumbs Awards